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FPTE convention told to ‘light a fire’

The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers – the international union to which The Society is affiliated – held its triennial convention at the end of July, featuring the theme Every member is a leader.

The 15-person Society delegation was active in the decision-making aspects of the meeting, and attended a number of workshops and keynote speeches.

Bruce Power Local Vice President Mike Gade said he was inspired by Dr. Elaine Bernard, a Harvard Law professor who imparted the need for unions and their leadership to “light fires” underneath their membership to spur them to action.

Gade also found it helpful to collaborate with IFPTE members in the United States to understand some of the challenges at The Society’s doorstep.

“It’s valuable to go to IFPTE events because when you’re with people in the States you’re looking in a crystal ball,” said Gade. “It’s likely what we’re going to see in Canada in 10 years. To look at the challenges they’re under is to see that we have to take an active role right now. ‘Right to work’ is the biggest of all. We might have defeated it for now here in Canada but it’s never far away.”

As part of The Society’s contribution to the convention, Chris Graham, unit director at the Independent Electricity System Operator Local, delivered a presentation on Ontario’s experience with Smart Grid at the convention’s Energy Forum. Chris’ presentation was extremely well received by other IFPTE energy professionals from around the US, and sparked a great deal of conversation and knowledge exchange.

Another positive outcome of the Energy Forum was an agreement to increase information sharing and joint activities between Society leadership and leadership of the IFPTE’s other large energy Locals, including Local 1937 at the Tenesse Valley Authority and Local 20 at Pacific Gas and Electric in California. Society leadership feels Local 160 has much to learn from these colleagues. For instance, Local 1937 helped deliver the Barr 2 reactor, the first North American new build unit in more than 20 years, which is expected to come on line imminently. The Society will be hosting the presidents of these two sister Locals, Gaye Henson and John Mader, in the near future.

Society President Scott Travers was also re-elected as one of two Canadian Vice Presidents to the IFPTE Executive Board during the convention.